Feds reverse course, say Massachusetts’s Right to Repair law can be enforced

BOSTON – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday that Massachusetts’s Right to Repair law does not go against federal laws.

Earlier this year, the NHTSA told automakers to ignore Massachusetts’ “Right To Repair” law, which voters overwhelmingly passed in 2020.

In June, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey wrote to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman protesting the NHTSA’s advice.  

“The federal government has heeded our call and clarified that Massachusetts’ Right to Repair law can now be enforced. Today’s action will not only help to ease burdens and lower costs for Massachusetts drivers but also ensure that transportation regulators continue to build on the promise of the Biden administration’s pro-competition, pro-consumer agenda,” Warren and Markey said in a joint statement.

The law is supposed to guarantee car owners access to the repair information needed to bring their cars to auto shops as vehicles become more computerized. However, the NHTSA said sharing that data would make it easier for criminals to steal data, or take control of cars remotely.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation filed suit on November 20, 2020, to stop the law. Although the case is still working its way through the courts, the state said it would begin enforcing the law June 1. However, the NHTSA said the law violated the Federal Vehicle Safety Act.

“The Right to Repair Coalition is pleased to see that NHTSA has reevaluated its position and concluded there are multiple ways to implement the right to repair law that don’t conflict with the Federal Vehicle Safety Act,” said Tommy Hickey, executive director of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition.

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